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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A Quick Hike up the Astoria Column

One of the many trips I’ve taken since being back in Portland includes a drive to Astoria, Oregon.

Random, I know.

The idea surfaced the night before Mother’s Day, when we asked my mom what she wanted to do on her special day. I expected a breakfast-in-bed sort of answer, but instead she said she’d like nothing more than for Caitlin, Dad and I to pile into her sports car and drive the ninety minutes to Astoria, where we'd climb the town’s famous column and look out over the city.

I was all for it, but Dad was nervous, his forehead suddenly occupied with glistening beads of sweat. He’s not much one for climbing things. Besides the fact that he’s deathly afraid of heights, his idea of a relaxing Sunday involves crossword puzzles, sunny beaches, and reclining chairs that accommodate falling asleep under late-afternoon rays when his eyes grow tired from reading and puzzling.

Mom? She’s more about action and adventure: exploring, hiking, doing. When the rest of us are relaxing on said beaches, she chooses not to unwind but to make sandwiches for the gang, packing them in bright canvas bags along with mini bags of chips, sodas, and games to play on the sand. I’m convinced it’s a maternal instinct thing.

So on Sunday, Mother’s Day, we decided to do something for her: load the car and set out for Astoria. As a kid, Mom remembers climbing the Astoria Column to no avail. Back then, at nine years old, it was never-ending. When she described the climb to us the night before Mother's Day, my mind drifted to rocky terrain, dirt, and grassy knolls. The hike would be a tough workout—just what I needed! I’d be sore, covered with sweat, on the way home. I decided hiking boots and workout pants were necessary. In my getup, I looked ready to brave the Himalayas.

Soon we pulled up to a skinny tower on top of a concrete mound. There was no soil or shady trail in sight—just a gorgeous landscape. Slightly embarrassed, I climbed the windy staircase—a five-minute ascent—until reaching the top for photo ops. Turns out hiking boots and workout attire weren’t required. (The good news is Dad didn’t puke off the side balcony while thinking about what a long fall it’d be from the top.)

We took pictures and ate a late lunch while looking at the ocean before driving the ninety minutes home. And although most of the day was spent in the car, it was a memorable one.





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